No Crying Policy

Learning to swim should be a positive experience for both parent and child. Swim Schools should adopt policies which revolve around positive teaching and learning techniques. No child should be subjected to a fearful or intimidating environment when learning to swim. Aggressively forcing children to perform learn to swim activities, for example back floating, while they are crying and in distress is totally inappropriate.

Crying during the swimming lesson can be very worrying and stressful for parents. In fact it can even turn parents off swimming altogether. Babies and young children can cry for a variety of different reasons and Swim Schools must give parents positive strategies to cope in these situations. Swim Schools should reassure parents that if they persevere in a loving caring environment, and learn to respond to their child’s cues, then very soon the child will be swimming happily and confidently.


Crying Baby

Babies communicate their needs and problems through crying. In some instances babies become tired, hungry even or cold during the swimming lesson. The astute parent will soon learn to recognise the different types of communicative cries given by their baby. Once parents recognise what is upsetting their baby it is easier to rectify the problem.

Swim Schools should encourage parents to:

  • Choose an appropriate time to swim, e.g. not during nap time and not during feed time
  • Arrive early to lessons to ensure that there is a calm and relaxed setting before the lesson starts, a rushed parent can be a stressed parent
  • Relax because baby’s read their parents body language, if the parent is nervous or stressed then the baby will be too!
  • Hold the baby softly and let them feel buoyancy, once baby experiences floating they become more relaxed in the water


Crying Toddler

As children grow with age they begin to form their own opinions, ideas and fears. Very often toddlers develop a fear of the water particularly if they haven’t had early exposure to the water. Toddlers can also be very emotional little people and sometimes they may not be in the mood to participate. If Swim Schools have scared or uncooperative toddlers, it is important that parents be encouraged not to force or hurry them. Forcing or hurrying the children will only make it more difficult the next time the parent brings them to the pool. Swim Schools do not want to get into situations where children are distressed before they even entre the learn to swim environment.

Swim Schools should encourage parents to:

  • Arrive early so that toddlers can watch other children enjoying swimming lessons
  • Give children adequate warm up time to relax, ideally in shallow water where they are in control
  • Set small realistic goals for their child
  • Use positives praise to encourage desired behaviors
  • Use parental demonstrations to help children relax


Settling crying children in the pool

At Laurie Lawrence Swim School we are lucky enough to have access to shallow water or specifically designed teaching ledges. These ledges are the perfect spot for a frightened or scared child to relax and be in control. Very often children become scared or upset when they are not in control. Parents are encouraged to use these shallow water environments to give their child space to calm down and then play little games to help them relax and re-engage them into the lesson. If children become upset during the lesson, it can be disruptive to the entire class. If parents are well versed with positive strategies and know what to do if their child becomes upset, it is much better for the entire group dynamics.

It is important that parents understand the importance of settling their child in the pool. We do not want to create a situation where the child thinks that if they cry then they can avoid their lesson. We also do not want to end the lesson on a negative note. This will make it harder when the parent and child return the following week. Swim Schools should encourage parents not to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable if their child becomes upset during the lesson, they should remind parents that this is a natural behavior and easy to overcome.


Laurie Lawrence

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  • Sarah Kirkell

    I loved reading this. I have enrolled my son (now 2 and a half) in two separate swim schools and have been advised to let him cry until he understands he can’t get out of the lesson. One of these schools even advertises that their coaches are specially trained to ease kids into the water and get them comfortable–but in practice they simply let them cry and offer toys and comfort only for compliance. This seems counterproductive to me, especially since he can motor boat, back float and kick with help and jumps in to me from the side when not in a lesson. He just gets scared during a lesson and so many swim people seem to think its a bad idea for parents to help ease their child in to the lesson. The cry it out attitude really has me down. Toddlers need time to get used to and trust an instructor. More people should realize this!!

  • Steve Friederang

    This is very interesting, of course. And no parent likes to see their child cry. But, let’s face it, children cry. Unless they fall in and drown. Drowning is called, rightfully so, the silent killer. And just as a crying newborn is the sign of a healthy baby, crying can be a sign that the new swimmer is making progress. I can’t tell you how many potential drowning victims I have worked with whose parents got tired of the months and sometimes years a swim school took coddling their child every time they cried. I have often got them floating in less than fifteen minutes because I make them realize I am the boss and floating, and only floating, will save their lives. Floating on the back saves lives and anything less from a swim school experience in a reasonable period of time is tantamount to malpractice. Over 3,000 children drown in the USA each year, and over 500,000 world-wide. Every child chould learn to back float from a fall in the water and from a face down or vertical position as soon as possible and not necessarily when they deem themselves comfortable or ready. The professional instructor can and should teach each child to float and the dificult ones should practice between sessions with mom and dad on the bed and standing to arch the back so they get used to lying in a straight back position. This might not be popular, but it is essential to the survival of the child. They might be more “comfortable in a sitting postion flailing thier arms and legs ro in prone position trying to keep thier heads up, but those are drowning positions and should not be tolerated by the trained professional. This is isn’t football — it’s survival — and the child must not be in control — the adult should be. The same child might also like to play with the stove or walk out on the highway, but those are no less dangerous than a child who makes “wrong” choices in the pool. One of those wrong choices is dependence on the parent or instructor to allow their crying to change the lesson. Some popular schools in our area are amazed that we can and do teach floating is a lesson or two when they have played wheels-on-the-bus and left them vulnerable to drowning in seconds following a fll in the pool even after six months of “lessons”. That method makes more money, but it’s rarely the right thing to do. Often the same child who came in crying leaves the lessons proud to have gone off the slide and flipped to their back. Of course most of these types of children should be in a private lesson, but often I’ll have these children do floating and only floating until they master the skill that will save them. Then, we teach them to breathe by rolling — never on the front and then teaching them to swim is simple and fast. Many of our children under two can swim across our fifty foot pool in a week or so and love to dive off the diving board and slide down the slide. Once they are skilled floaters and only then can they themselves be in control.

    • Teena Gresty

      Hi Steve I would love to see some videos of your lessons .